SBD/May 2, 2014/Colleges

Top NCAA Sports Programs Increased Revenue, Salaries During Economic Downturn

Athletic programs at the nation's top public colleges have "thrived” during the economic downturn, as revenues “continue to reach record levels while payrolls have risen on average” about 40%, according to Paula Lavigne of ESPN.com. Total revenue from FBS programs has increased by about 33%, "fueled by ticket sales, donations and lucrative television contracts" that together resulted in about $8B. "OTL" “analyzed figures from six years of revenue and expense reports” from 123 FBS schools. From academic year ‘07-08 through ‘12-13, operating revenues at all schools increased by about 32%. The nation's wealthiest program, Texas, brought in $166M in revenue in ‘12-13. At many schools, the bank of college athletics “defies soaring tuition costs, university budget cuts and shortages that strain other parts of campus.” In ‘12-13, 20 public schools “showed a surplus of earned revenue,” a number that has not changed much over the past few years. The NCAA “puts the figure at 23, which likely includes a few private schools whose data the NCAA has access to but doesn’t release publicly.” Ohio State Associate AD/Finance Pete Hagan said that OSU “showed a surplus" of almost $24M, but that does not factor in $16.6M in debt service that the department is "paying on bonds issued to fund renovations at Ohio Stadium and to build a new aquatics center, along with some smaller building projects.” Lavigne noted while some departments “likely could absorb some sort of extra benefit for student athletes, others could not.” If there is one area where there is “agreement among those in and out of the programs, it is that there is growing economic disparity among schools, even within the FBS ranks” (ESPN.com, 5/1).

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